Let Black History Month inspire you to get involved and support PCS by standing up to racism, challenging stereotypes and promoting equality today.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month (BHM) is an opportunity to focus on the achievements of black people past and present and reflect on our path to race equality.
It started in the USA with a holiday that coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederic Douglass. In the US, BHM is celebrated in February but in the UK it takes place in October each year. Since the first UK celebration in 1987 the event has expanded and now encompasses the history of Africa, Caribbean and Asian people who have a direct link with the UK through slavery, colonialism and migration.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Race Relations Act 1968, as well as being the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King.
As Zita Holbourne, PCS National Vice President and National Black Members Vice Chair states,
“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Race Relations Act 1968 which is particularly relevant to our union movement & workers as it introduced protection from discrimination in the workplace and in union membership.
As we mark this anniversary I am painfully aware that we are currently facing horrific levels of racism at work and in wider society. From the Windrush scandal to Islamophobic hate crime, scapegoating of migrant communities to the impact of austerity on employment prospects, discrimination in appraisal to racist harassment and bullying at work, plus much more. It is essential for our movement to stand up not just to the far right but to challenge the #everydayracism which plagues our lives and seeks to block our every move. I'm proud to have had and continue to play a leading role with my colleagues in PCS on campaigning for race equality and against racism in all its forms. It is important during BHM to celebrate our contribution as black trade unionists but essential that we use our achievements be it as black workers, trade union representatives or community leaders to educate, elevate and celebrate, every month of every year.”
Why support Black History Month?
Black history is often ‘hidden’ – it may have been forgotten about or be absent from history books and the education system. Similarly the role of women, disabled, LGBT and ordinary workers in general is often overlooked in formal history.
Black History Month is an opportunity for all PCS members to remember our history and look to the future, joining together to renew our commitment to race equality. Events can provide an informative and interesting experience for all PCS members and give black members an opportunity to raise awareness of their histories and the challenges their communities have faced.
This is particularly relevant this year with the Windrush campaign which PCS has been a vital part of, passing a motion at PCS conference this year and our members have been involved over a number of years over the injustice of the Windrush generation and their families.
“Black History Month in October marks the 50th anniversary of the Race Relations Act and PCS has campaigned for years for equality, freedom and justice for members both within and outside the workplace. We are pleased to support Black History Month again this year, particularly around the campaigning work on the Windrush generation, and would urge all members, branches and regions to use the campaign materials provided to raise the profile of the month and participate in activities organised”. Mark Serwotka (General Secretary) and Janice Godrich (National President)
Organising for Black History Month
Organise your own event/activity in your branch and workplace by using the resources available on this page:
- Use the Photo opp cards and send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Check for events in your PCS region/nation.
- Let us know about your event or any other activity you are involved in either inside or outside of work, by emailing email@example.com - include pictures if you have them.
- Forward any suggestions or ideas for Black History Month to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PCS salutes those who throughout history have joined together to challenge racism, injustice and exploitation. All our members have a crucial part to play in spreading the message of trade unionism and campaigning collectively for equality, freedom and justice.
The following materials are available for use: